New California law to let college athletes sign endorsement deals


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Califorina Governor Gavin Newsome (left) appereaed on LeBron James’ show “The Shop” on Tuesday to do a mock signing of the Fair Pay to Play Act.

For years there has been talk to upend how college athletics works in the U.S., but in each of those instances, the NCAA didn’t budge from their catbird seat. On Sept. 30, however, California’s governor signed a bill that would allow college athletes to make money off their name, image and likeness.

The Fair Pay to Play Act, which doesn’t go into effect until 2023, will allow athletes to hire agents to negotiate on their behalf to sign endorsement deals with companies that don’t have a deal with the school they are attending.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and others cast the law as an attempt to bring more fairness to big-money college sports and let athletes share in the wealth they create for their schools.

“Other college students with a talent, whether it be literature, music, or technological innovation, can monetize their skill and hard work,” he said. “Student-athletes, however, are prohibited from being compensated while their respective colleges and universities make millions, often at great risk to athletes’ health, academics and professional careers.”

Newsom went on LeBron James’ HBO show “The Shop” last week to discuss and sign the bill. The bill, if it went into effect currently, would fall to the NCAA’s own regulations. The bill has been implemented to help push the NCAA to change their own ways. Colorado, Ohio, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina also introduced their own variation of the law.

Jeanne Lenti Ponsetto, DePaul’s athletic director, commented on the Fair Pay to Play Act, showing her support for players using their likeness.

“The name, image and likeness discussion allows another avenue for student-athletes to maximize their collegiate experience, which I am in full support of allowing,” she said.

However, paying athletes salaries and making them official employees is not an avenue athletic departments want to go down.

“A scenario that leads to student-athletes being directly paid for play and becoming employees would severely alter the current model and lead to major changes not only in college athletics, but also across college campuses,” Ponsetto said.

Robert Kallen, a DePaul clinical professor of economics and director of the MS program in economics and policy analysis and an expert on the NCAA, believes that if California’s bill was to be held constitutional, it would raise questions on whether the NCAA is exploiting student-athletes’ services to their schools.

“There’s still a huge piece of the pie, the NCAA is fearful if the legislation was held constitutional and if it was to become common practice, where does that stop,” Kallen said. “It raises questions and it questions the NCAA, Mrs. Ponsetto and universities don’t want to address, and that is the fact are we or are we not exploiting [athletic students], and I call them athletic students not student-athletes. Student-athletes was created by the NCAA and, [in] my humble opinion, it perpetrated a fraud.

“They have to stick to the script and these are talking points,” he continued. “It’s not surprising. Having said that, you would think university presidents would eventually get tired of this and realize that they should take back control of the athletic departments to the point where they can start addressing the issues. When all is said and done, everybody has forgotten we are talking individuals, we are talking about human beings and we kind of lost our mission.”

Since the passing of the Fair Pay to Play Act in California, other states around the country have introduced similar bills and members of congress have also supported the bill.